The Rur’Eaux Platform
RUR’EAUX: An innovative demonstration platform for rural water reclamation and reuse (France)
In France, 80% of the collective domestic wastewater treatment plants have a capacity below 2,000 population equivalents (p.e.), thus representing 30 to 40% of the total volume of treated wastewater. Most of those plants are in rural areas, in the vicinity of cultivated fields where irrigation is a common practice especially in south of France and in open fields. Driven by climate change irrigation practices are spreading from historic crops such as maize (biggest water consumption in France) and vegetables to other crops such as wheat, fodder, vineyards or trees.
Water reclamation and reuse is not a common practice in rural France: potential and water demand are very high, but profitability is very difficult to reach for plants below 2,000 p.e. Existing treatment and disinfection technologies are not tailored to fit both with national and upcoming European standards but also with rural conditions and needs: robustness, efficiency, low-energy and low-maintenance must be put into practice and tested to reach profitability.
The RUR’EAUX platform is a test and demonstration pilot site for rural water reclamation and reuse. It is located in Saint-Jean-de-Cornies (Herault department, southern France), a municipality of around 800 inhabitants north of Montpellier. The original plant is a one-stage vertical flow reed bed, from which treated water is discharged into a small creek. The site is under a Mediterranean climate. Irrigated crops in the area are fodder, vegetables and vineyards.
The RUR’EAUX platform aims at testing and putting into practice sanitation and disinfection technologies tailored for rural water reuse conditions. Four technology modules based on gravity membrane, electro-oxidation, aerated reed bed filter and UV are first being implemented. Before implementation the treatment technologies have all reached at least a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of seven to eight but need to be put into practice in rural conditions.
RUR’EAUX platform – Technologies, practices and tests
After treatment, the RUR’EAUX platform, illustrated below, will enable : (1) to monitor and compare water quality evolutions into different storage conditions; (2) to test materials tailored for water reuse irrigation; and (3) to monitor the impacts of water reuse on soils, crops and drainage water, especially the long term effects of salinity, using lysimetric equipped containers and field test micro-plots. At least three years of irrigation will be monitored.
Cost-efficiency of all the tested technologies (treatment systems, storage and irrigation materials) in field conditions will be the key monitored indicator, the main objective of the project being to spread and multiply water reclamation and reuse systems that are sustainable and profitable in rural areas. Beyond the next three years of tests the RUR’EAUX platform aims to become an OPEN platform for rural water reclamation and reuse.
The RUR’EAUX platform – Technologies, practices and tests
The RUR’EAUX demonstration site was constructed in 2019. With a total budget of 800 k€ over the next three years, the platform is led by Ecofilae and is directly funded by the project’s partners (Ecofilae, Syntea, IRSTEA, Montpellier Engineering, IEM, the Agricultural council of Herault, the town of Saint-Jean-de-Cornies and by the Rhône Mediterranée Corse Water Agency.
Agronomist & PhD in soil science, senior expert on water reuse
CEO of Ecofilae, France